Tips for a Mouth Healthy Halloween

Wishing you a Happy and Safe Halloween- From UNITED SIKHS

 

Halloween is around the corner, which for most children means bags of free candy and a chance to build a stockpile of sweets for the winter. No surprise, Halloween can also present parents with a variety of health challenges.

Here are some ways you can help your children stay mouth healthy during Halloween and year-round:

  • Eat Halloween candy and other sugary foods with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles.
  • Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. Besides how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.
  • Avoid sticky candies that cling to your teeth. The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
  • Drink more water. Drinking optimally fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, look for kinds that are fluoridated.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Your body is like a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you “fill up” affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums.
  • Avoid beverages with added sugar such as soda, sports drinks or flavored waters. When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased.
  • Chew sugarless gum. Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by dental plaque bacteria.
  • Children over the age of 2 should brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
  • Clean between teeth daily with floss. Decay-causing bacteria get between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
  • Be careful with braces. Halloween candy can be a nightmare for someone who wears braces, but it doesn’t have to be. Trick-or-treaters who wear braces should avoid nuts, popcorn, tortilla chips, hard candy, caramel and other chewy candies to keep their braces safe and intact. However, there are plenty of other things that trick-or-treaters who wear braces can enjoy, like chocolate!
  • Visit a dentist. Regular visits to your dentist can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur early, when they are easy to treat.

Fun alternatives to candy

If you are concerned about the amount of candy that your child will receive, try rationing it over a few weeks. Another alternative would be to let your child trade in Halloween candy for a video game, book, toy or trip to the movies. You can also have your child set aside half of the Halloween candy and donate it to an organization such as a local soup kitchen. By reducing the amount of candy your child eats and by teaching your child that moderation is important, you won’t have to worry about things like tooth decay and Halloween will still be fun.

 

Here are healthy treat alternatives for parents to hand out on Halloween night to help trick-or-treaters avoid painful teeth and gums throughout the year:

  • Sugarless gum
  • Sugarless candy
  • String cheese

 

Parents can also give out fun toys and other gifts like Halloween stickers, Halloween pencils and erasers, temporary tattoos, vampire teeth, toothbrushes and floss, which will certainly help trick-or-treaters keep their smiles cavity free.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Sources: American Dental Association (ADA), Canadian Dental Association (CDA)

This information is brought to you as part of The Sikh American Families Oral Health Promotion Program is an initiative of the UNITED SIKHS’ Community Empowerment and Education Division. The project is supported by the Dentaquest Foundation’s National Community Committee’s Oral Health Initiative and addresses oral health promotion in the Sikh American community in New York and New Jersey. Additionally, it also helps build capacity for community engagement for oral health.

Our partners in this undertaking are the New York University Prevention Research Center, New York University College of Dentistry, Gurdwaras across New York and New Jersey and community members.

 

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